Jessica Samuelsson on adjusting to a role higher up the pitch

Jessica Samuelsson on adjusting to a role higher up the pitch

Swedish defender talks about her gradual return to fitness

Sophie Lawson

Following Sweden’s win over England we spoke to Arsenal defender Jessica Samuelsson about her successful return to the squad after missing over a year through injury.

Back in yellow and blue

Having gotten injured at the end of an early Swedish World Cup qualifier against Hungary, Samuelsson was only supposed to be out of action for half a year, however a set back in June left her on the Swedish sidelines for 13 months. With a new coach developing the team every camp, for the Arsenal woman, it’s like she was never away, the instructions from Peter Gerhardsson needing no further explanation.

Well it’s quite easy, it’s always simple stuff to follow so I think it’s quite easy.

With so much changing on and off of the pitch, for Samuelsson it felt like she was never away.

It just felt like normal again, I missed it so much! It’s so good to be back with the girls, playing with the national team is a special feeling and it brings me some new energy and hopefully I can take that back to Arsenal.

Having taken a big step back in her recovery when she was due back, the Gunners have been extra gentle with the 26-year-old, easing her back into the team with a slew of substitute appearances. With a solid 60 minute shift put in against England, the defender admitted she was starting to feel the effects during the match.  

I got a bit tired to be honest and I need to be careful with my muscles and my foot, it was a good amount of minutes today and hopefully I can continue to increase my time on the pitch.

Deployed in wide midfield parallel to Jonna Andersson as the natural full backs took up wing back positions – a position that Andersson has become well used to at Chelsea – Samuelsson admitted that the new role took a touch of adjusting to.

I was a little bit hard in the beginning but mostly defensively because it’s hard to know how high they want me to go. So, in the beginning I felt like I ended up in the middle but in the second half and end of the first half I felt like I found a better position but it’s always hard with a new system like that, finding the new positions and stuff. But it’s good because it’s quite similar to full back and that’s a role I know well.”

Not quite unbeaten this year, Sweden have taken big strides under their new coach and the defender was clearly happy to end the year on a high, Sweden not a team to be written off for the upcoming World Cup.

I think we’ve been really good this year overall and this game was a really good test for us. I feel like we’re really up there and we’re just looking forward the World Cup.”

Gunning for gold

Away from national team duty, Samuelsson’s club team have been flying and the defender refuses to take a foot off of the gas, insisting that Arsenal need to keep their razor-sharp focus no matter the opposition.  

We have such a good rhythm and everything has been going our way so we just need to continue that. We need to keep pushing ourselves; in training sessions, in games, even against smaller teams; we also need to push ourselves to do the best of everything.”

With Arsenal riding high in the table, with a cushion between themselves and the chasing pack the plaudits this season have gone to coach Joe Montemurro. The Australian having taken over part-way through the last season, the results slowly began to improve, this season the culmination of months of studious work in training.

Despite the injuries, Arsenal are flying, the manager getting the best out of his players, the understanding around the team paramount with everyone 100% bought into the system.

Because Joe came in the middle of last season, we’ve had long enough with him that we have really found the way to play and everyone has found their roles on the pitch.”